Header image: Henri Lloyd in St Katharine Docks before the race start


I wrote the following as a crew diary for Clipper, on the 4th May 2014.

I have really enjoyed seeing the varied forms of wildlife on this leg. From sea turtles floating along to seals appearing to play as they pass, flying fish and the odd sea snake. What seals were doing way out here I have no idea.

At night-time there is phosphorescence as creatures that we disturb with our passing glow in the dark.  I have seen massive birds, which Eric says may be albatrosses, and if they are not they are fulmars. Where’s my Dad – a keen birdwatcher – when you need to ask him? I am used to taking photographs and sending them to Dad for identification.

There have been boobies, brown and masked according to Sarah, circling the boat in the morning especially and also at other times of the day.  Chris calls them teradactyls!  Personally I have not seen or heard the promised whales – yet.  There is still time as we have about another week and a half before our arrival into Panama is due.

For me though, the highlight and the most prolific of all the wildlife is the dolphins.  I have always loved seeing them when sailing, so to see so many is a real treat.

In the dark, you are first alerted to their presence by the sound of them breathing as they break the surface to jump out of the water.  When watching them by the starlight and the phosphorescence, you can see the white trails of frothy seawater they make before they jump. These trails end abruptly as they leave the water and you can make out their arched silhouette before they dive in again.  It may be coincidence, but it may be the dolphins hunting them, but the deck ends up covered in squid overnight.

Some of these get squished and coat the deck in their black ink.  Others hit members of the on-watch, causing a minor commotion until they work out what has happened.

In the daylight, it is harder to realise that you can hear their breathing, as you can make out their black and white colouring when they jump.

Today there were mothers and babies swimming close together.  Or so I’m told.  I was concentrating on the helm and trying to ignore them.  The dolphins can also be a bit of a distraction when trimming.

The other day in the dog watch there were about two hundred swimming and jumping off our starboard beam.  It was a fantastic display that had us all mesmerised.  By the time any of us thought that it may be of interest to the other watch who had only recently gone below, the show was over.

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